Mastering archery requires skill, concentration and perseverance. It’s a sport that’s fun, but also allows participants of any age or skill level to compete against others or challenge themselves individually. The sport has long helped archers gain confidence and physical strength, but two Texas teachers have discovered archery also helps students with math.
Mike Duncan and Raeann Melvin, who teach physical education at Nolanville Elementary School in Nolanville, Texas, started an archery class two years ago to help third- through fifth-grade students understand how to determine area and perimeter in geometry.
The Killeen Daily Herald reports:
Fifth-grader Amy Miseli started with archery as a third-grader and saw her skills develop, both in the gym where the archers shoot and in the classroom.
“It’s fun,” she said. “It definitely helps in school because it uses the math part of the brain,” she said, noting that distance is an important factor when aiming down targets or working on math problems.
As a third-grader, Miseli said she finished 12th in the school’s competition and last year was the first-place archer.
Archery, which is offered in an increasing number of schools nationwide, helps kids hone concentration and life skills. It also offers them extra incentives to keep up the good work – and the good grades.
Brad Cowan, who teaches archery and bowhunting skills to seventh- and eighth-graders at Locust Grove School in Oklahoma, says kids and parents are big fans of the archery program. Their reasons for liking the class differ, however.
“All my students must maintain a C average to stay in the archery and Explore Bowhunting classes,” Cowan said. “Other sports require a D average, but that isn’t high enough for me. In the six years I’ve taught archery and bowhunting classes, I’ve only had four students who couldn’t keep up their grades. This class is fun, and it’s a powerful incentive for students to perform well academically.”
Earning good grades so they can participate in archery is reason enough for most students to study hard. But getting to shoot archery also keeps kids in line when grades don’t count. In community archery classes and after-school programs, young archers quickly learn to play by the rules if they wish to experience archery’s thrills.
“When a new class starts, the kids are always rowdy at first and have a hard time following rules,” said Anthony Park, archery coordinator at Cullman Parks and Recreation in Alabama. “But once they shoot for the first time, they love it. And once they realize they can only shoot if they follow the rules, they get it. I’ve seen even kids with the worst behavioral problems straighten up because they know if they follow the rules, they can shoot. It’s like magic.”
Here’s what other teachers say about archery’s benefits for students:
“The kids learn to focus and concentrate. They build pride in themselves. A lot of kids think they’ll come in and shoot bull’s-eyes right off the bat. To see them realize that they have to really work on their skills and then watch as they improve is gratifying.” – Zoe Irwin, assistant manager, Sterling Community Center, Sterling, Va.
“I have a student who used to sit on the floor in the gym and cry in second grade. In third grade, she started archery and won four tournaments that year. Now her level of confidence is amazing.” – Gary James, teacher, Keystone Schools, Oklahoma
“Archery is the only sport I’ve seen that is this structured. Kids learn to wait their turn, follow directions, set goals and challenge themselves. Once they’re instructed, hardly any of my students cause problems. Archery develops character, and these students will benefit the rest of their lives.” – Wyatt Kingston, recreation specialist, city of Richmond, Richmond, Va.
“My archery team and Outdoor Adventures class get a lot of kids who aren’t involved in any other school activities. Archery gives them a place to belong.” – Jason Anderson, teacher, Allen High School, Allen, Texas